Now, I know this can't be true of every textiles classroom in the entire world, but man, I have so many kids tell me how much they hate textiles at school - how boring the projects are, how they have to all do the exact same thing with the fabric that the teacher chooses. Yes I know that the logistics of teaching means it can't all be a free-wheeling roller coaster of fun...but I just hate it when these kids seem so 'flattened out" by something they were so looking forward to.
(A Christmas present for me from one of my Grade 6 friends-made from a jumper Thanks Martin)
So I was discussing this kind of thing with a parent one day and she said - "You should make a pattern that Jess could sew-something fun that would help her learn some basics.". That planted the seed which I then ignored for at least 6 months.I kept coming back to this idea of a really super easy pattern, I thought about the size and the things that made sewing patterns daunting but for a long time it just felt a bit too hard. Then there erupted a small "discussion" in blogland, in the quilting circles mostly. This discussion raged over a lot of topics but one of the them really stuck with me. Some people seemed to be upset by people who write and sell easy patterns (they were talking quilting), they seemed equally upset by people who made ten or twenty of the same quilts and didn't try and grow or expand their skills.
So, you know I stopped and had a think about this for a while and I got a bit disgruntled about it all. You know I don't want to belong to a craft group (online or in real life) that is going to dictate what I must make, or what is too easy or what my next step must be. I was particularly perturbed by the idea that people should not be allowed to sell simple patterns of their own design. Seriously , no-one forces people to buy things. Yes, I have seen patterns and thought to myself "You hardly need a pattern to make that - its so easy" but that's me, bringing my crafty logic and experience and knowledge to that pattern; ten or fifteen years ago I would have needed that pattern to get me started. So, I then applied that logic to the idea of toy-making and my thoughts returned again to the idea of patterns for absolute beginners. (of course being told not to do something is a great motivator ) If no-one writes simple patterns ..... what happens to the people who want to start to make /sew/quilt create. Where will they start?
At that point I rounded up some new pattern testers, Evie (9), Sarah and Lucy (13) Indi (10) and Connor (16) Kate (32) and together we fudged and bumbled and created three new patterns. To say that working with these guys was fun is a total understatement. Apart from the incident with the hair all the kids were absolute stars. The finished products and the sense of achievement these guys had (yes even Mr too-cool proudly showed off his two dogs to the boys in the band) made me think that I was on the right track. And of course we are talking months and months and months here. Pickle, Sally and Smith and Gulliver from the previous post are the three new beginner-friendly patterns. Pickle is the easiest and I am talking seriously basic info. We cover right and wrong side of fabric, back tacking, seam clipping - all the things you need to know, then they get a little bit harder as we go on and add button joints to Smith and then some super stuffing and a teeny hat accessory for Gulliver. So there is a bit of a rant or a reason , or an idea about what I was thinking and where these new friends came from. I am pleased, really pleased to have made these and of course I hope other people like them too. I'll be banging on about them for a few more posts, with some giveaways and stuff and I'll show you the ones that the kids made as well.